Tarzan may be the king of the jungle, but he’s also the king of abs. After watching him rule the jungle on the big screen, moviegoers and gym buffs alike have made the Alexander Skarsgard Tarzan workout one of the most asked about fitness routines.
You’ve become fully accustomed to us here at TRAIN providing you with the hook-up and when have we ever let you down? We caught up with Alexander who revealed the workouts and nutrition he used to sculpt an eight-pack worthy of donning the world’s most famous loincloth for jungle epic, The Legend of Tarzan.
Alexander Skarsgard’s winning training mentality
Swedish acting sensation Alexander Skarsgard is the 19th actor to play canopy-hopping adventurer, Tarzan. The 40-year-old made his name on tv vampire drama true blood as Eric Northman and his masculine exploits made it clear he was the perfect choice to ex his acting muscles as the always-topless king of the swingers.
For his biggest role to date, Skarsgard beat off stiff competition from the likes of Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, Charlie Hunnam and even Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps, all of whom were reportedly considered for the role of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ feral hero.
To land the part, the Swede took his training to new heights to carve eight- pack abs that could terrify the meanest of silverback gorillas. “I worked really hard on the legend of Tarzan with my physique, it was unlike anything I’d ever done before,” he explains. “it was pretty extreme. I had to put on quite a lot of lean muscle, so it was a lot of weightlifting and training – mixed in with a strict diet.
Building Tarzan’s body inside the gym and out
“I locked myself away with my trainer for four months before shooting. I had to be very diligent and listen to Magnus Lygdback, my trainer. Whatever he told me to do i did: barbell curls, at-bench presses, dead balls, trx, pad work, sprints, kettlebell swing and pull-ups.
I was up at the crack of dawn lifting weights, training, doing lots of crunches, and then i would also work with the choreographer to develop tarzan’s moves and movement.”
the swede’s dedication and work ethic was instilled in him at a young age after he signed up for national service.
The military attitude and skills he garnered while serving 18 months in the Swedish army taught him how to stay focused, which he needed to be when prepping for the character of Tarzan, including getting his nutrition on point.
Alexander Skarsgard diet and nutrition discipline
“To change your body takes hard work, discipline, chicken, crunches and science,” he says, leaning back in his chair and laughing. “The diet was very scientific. It’ was high in protein, lots of chicken. There were lots of whole foods, which meant staying away from refined sugars, dairy, yeast and gluten.
The carbs I ate were things like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and oatmeal. There were also good fats like almonds and almond- based products. Obviously, I’d drink a lot of water. I’d always have water with me.”
And he showed the same attention to detail when he chose the team that helped him get ready for the role. “I prepped for four months on the legend of tarzan and then the shoot was six months, so you want to get it right,” he explains. “and i was nervous about getting it right, so i was very disciplined and strict with myself.
“I was fortunate in that I had a very, very good trainer and also a really good nutritionist. They really helped me on this journey, and I’m very thankful because it was a very big challenge.
It was incredible to see how my body would respond to the training and diet. If you’re dedicated and stick to a plan you can make great changes.”
Tarzan dancing fit
As well as banging and clanging the iron to develop the upper body strength needed to play the king of the vine swingers, skarsgard also tapped into his more artistic side to perfect his movement patterns – by taking dancing classes.
“I worked with a guy who works predominately with the world’s best ballet dancers, so i think it was a shock for him working with me, as someone who struggles to touch his toes,” he explains. “and it was a shock for me working with someone at his level.
“Overall, working on the legend of tarzan was all-consuming, but it was completely worth it. I love the director david yates, I love the script, I loved the people I was working with, I loved the sets, and I thought it was such an interesting take on a classic story. It’s something that can be very relatable. It was an amazing experience.”
If you want to climb the vine of physical excellence, you’ll need to show the dedication to training that has made Skarsgard become king of the Hollywood jungle.
Skarsgard was monstrous as the lead villain who terrorized James Marsden and Kate Bosworth in this remake of the controversial 1971 original, which starred Dustin Ho man
The Swede exed his muscles as the hero – and Taylor Kitsch’s older brother – opposing an alien attack on earth in a big-budget adaptation of the popular board game.
Playing a powerful vampire sheri who was born a viking lord seemed to be the perfect excuse for repeatedly taking his clothes off on HBO
Alexander Skarsgard Tarzan Workout
Your king of the apes-inspired workout that uses ropes to build gorilla-like upper- body strength. Do each exercise for one minute and take a 30-second rest between moves. Rest two minutes between each circuit. Complete five circuits twice a week.
Vertical rope climb
Grab hold of a rope as high as you can with both hands and pull yourself up. Position the rope between your legs and wrap it around the outside of your right knee and back between the insteps of your feet. Pull your knees to your chest and let the rope pass through your feet. Clamp your feet together and stand up. Repeat until you reach the top.
Place your battle ropes on the ground and grab one in each hand. Lift both hands above your head. As you lunge from side to side, slam the ropes down next to your front leg so they hit the ground at the lowest point in your lunge. Repeat the movement on your other side and keep alternating sides until your time is up.
Hold a battle rope in each hand, shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent. Put your hands together and move the ropes at the same time to the right, starting a figure-eight motion, then immediately in the opposite direction to the left to complete it, forcing both ropes to slam the ground at the same time in between sides.
Russian twist slam
Sit on the ground facing an anchor with your knees bent and heels resting on the floor. Lean back slightly until your abs are engaged. Holding the battle ropes with both hands, rotate only your arms and upper body and slam the ropes at each turn. Repeat until your minute is up.
Rope jumping jack
Anchor one end of the battle ropes and hold the opposite ends your hands. Perform jumping jacks and as your legs come together, slam the ropes to the floor. Be sure to keep your arms as straight as possible as you raise them over your head and throw them back down.
Seated vertical climb
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and the rope between them. Reach up and grab it with two hands. Pull yourself o the ground and let the rope flow between your legs as you pull yourself to the ceiling. Slowly lower yourself back down with the same movement.
After this session you will have achieved:
• upper-body power
• cast-iron grip
• more lean muscle
• lower body fat
For more articles like the Alexander Skarsgard Tarzan workout, nutrition tips, interviews and workouts, get TRAIN magazine direct into your inbox every month for free by signing up to our newsletter